Norman Buckley- Director/ Editor: Rizzoli & Isles, The OC, Chuck, Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, Gossip Girl, Switched at Birth, and more
When did you realize you wanted to work in television?
I worked for many years as an editor in independent features. Around 2000 I started editing Pilots for Warner Brothers and all of my Pilots became series. I edited the Pilot for The OC; and asked that they consider me as a director. I started directing the show in the second season and began full time in the fourth season.
What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?
I think it is very important to be clear about what you want to achieve–for instance, if you were to say you want to work in TV or movies–that’s great, but doing what? Are you saying you’re willing to assist someone or do you only want to be a star? Do you want to start at the bottom, or do you expect to begin at the top? It’s an important distinction, because if you’re not willing to start at the bottom, then don’t bother calling people. You should just wait for lightning to strike. Certainly, there are situations where people move up quickly, but I’m a big believer in the tortoise approach (it worked for me). Proceed step by step, without discouragement or judgment of your current position. Play full-out where you are.
What is something you wish someone told you about the industry?
I wish someone told me earlier that no one knows any more than anybody else. Everybody is trying to figure it out. One shouldn’t be intimidated by what one doesn’t know. And people are always willing to help.
What was your first job in television/ directing/ editing?
I edited a Warner Brothers TV movie called “Witchblade” which then became a TV series.
Usually I ask writers what their writing process is like. They typically write for one show at a time, you direct and edit on so many wonderful shows. I’m assuming your process is bit different! Can you walk us through your process once you receive a script and you start prepping for production/ directing/ editing an episode?
On any given TV show I do my homework. I look at how they shoot the show and try to get a sense of what they are looking for in terms of visual style. I prep very completely, beginning with reading the script over and over- I ask myself what the dramatic event is for every scene; what is the scene’s purpose in the script.
The rhythm of any particular scene can be very much like music, and often as each scene comes together, the editing process becomes a musical process—a natural rise and fall, a repeating of patterns. One is often seeking, in a scene, the same type of emotional resonance that is expressed by a beautiful song. (It’s a hard process to articulate but, as anyone who has edited can attest, one knows it when one feels it.)
You’ve worked on Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and many more great shows, were there any episodes that surprised you while working on them? What was something you took away from working on those shows?
I enjoy working on shows that aim at the teen audience. While many teens would not necessarily relate to shows that are tailored for adults, most everyone can relate to a teen show. I am always surprised and energized by the work of others, with whom I collaborate. I believe in people feeling the freedom to share their best ideas and the best idea always wins.
How has your time been working on Rizzoli & Isles? It’s seems like such a great set/ group of people to be around!
I’ve done seven episodes of Rizzoli and Isles and I will miss the show very much. I finished shooting my last episode yesterday, as this is their last season. It’s been a wonderful gig and I’m lucky to have worked with the cast and crew.
What shows made you fall in love with television? What shows are you currently loving?
I am more of a cinephile, so I don’t know that I had any favorite shows growing up, and television was far different. If you pressed me I’d probably say The Twilight Zone and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” as they stimulated my imagination, but the films of Hitchcock, Fellini, Billy Wilder, and George Stevens have probably had the biggest impact on my creative development.
This season I am enjoying watching Mr. Robot and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I really loved Manhattan on WGN and was very sad to see that canceled.